September 11, 2020 — Schools and rodeo grounds and fairgrounds have become traditional evacuation centers as fire season has turned into a months-long annual event. Refugees from the August Complex Fire can take shelter at the high school in Covelo and drop their animals off at the rodeo grounds on South Airport Road.
And when the Oak Fire started in Brooktrails on Labor Day, community members grabbed their go bags and pets and many headed for the high school in Willits. Repopulation started up again yesterday afternoon, but for several days, some of the human evacuees were being sent to other locations where they could have more room. But their animals were allowed to stay put. Livestock was welcomed at the Willits Junior Horsemen’s Association, at 901 east Commercial street. Small and medium sized animals were put up at the Willits high school ag department on the south end of campus, past the mosaic and over a little wooden footbridge crossing a dry creek bed. About half a dozen brown and white Nubian goats live in a pasture on the way to the pig barn, which was full of dogs waiting for their people to come back.
Yesterday morning was cool and overcast, with a heavy layer of smoke and a sprinkling of ash over everything. Amy Campbell, who is ordinarily the shelter supervisor for the county-run facility in Ukiah, was on hand to keep an eye on the animals and answer any questions.